Well, well, well. We see each other again. Haven’t had enough of Pokemon Catch-up yet? Good! As always, this is a post series that helps you get back on track with the Pokemon anime. Using the Pokemon Fast Track Viewing List, we breeze through the seasons as far as a Scissor.

Before we get into things, I’d love to solicit some feedback on this post series. Are the posts long enough? Is there enough detail? Or is it too much? It’s difficult to skate the fine line of “summary” and “synopsis”. Please comment below! 🙂

Today, I’m facing a dilemma. Are we on Episode 20 or 21? Netflix is telling me that “Bye Bye Butterfree” is episode 20 while the viewing list is telling me 21. My guess is that there is an unreleased episode somewhere in there.

This episode is one of THE iconic episodes of the anime. It’s the episode where we all shed waterworks and where we ended up wondering, “Is this how the rest of the anime will go?” We’ll see!

Today’s Episode: Season 1 (Indigo League), Episode 20: “Bye Bye Butterfree”

Synopsis

“Tu-du-du. I wanna be the very best, like no one ever was!”

Today, we’re joining Ash and the rest of the group on yet another adventure that brings the boy closer to being a Pokemon Master, a journey he’s still on today.

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Just look at him strutting around so confidently. It’s like he won a gym badge (he didn’t). In fact, the past few episodes we skipped weren’t really all that interesting.

The trio walk all the way to a cliff by the sea. Brock checks the map and see that the Saffron City can be reached by a ledge skirting the tall cliffs.

Ash notices some strange flutter off in the distance and Misty informs him that it’s Butterfree. Brock tells them that it’s the “Season of Love” and the Butterfree are celebrating it. It’s time to find their mates and lay eggs across the sea.

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Brock informs Ash that if he doesn’t let his Butterfree join the group, Butterfree will never be able to have offspring. Which doesn’t make sense to me at all. Couldn’t Ash just let Butterfree come back a few years later? Maybe once he’s a Pokemon Master and all that?

The trio make it to a hot air balloon out in the grassy plains and lift off. They expect to see many others do the same to witness the event.

They make it closer to the Butterfree and Ash lets his own Pokemon out. The Butterfree flaps its wings excitedly and the trio encourage the Pokemon to go out there and find its mate.

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Unfortunately for Butterfree, there is no Tinder where it could swipe right on its perfect mate. This means that it has to come up to every Butterfree out there and face rejection every single time. What a bummer!

Brock then has to explain to the trio that Butterfree don’t look all the same and that no one is Butterfree’s type. To me, it looks like the opposite but hey, thanks for the optimism!

As more hot air balloons join the skies, more trainers let out their Butterfree. Brock falls in love with one of the trainers instantly and then gets hit over the head by Misty.

Ash and Misty point out that if Butterfree can’t find a mate quickly, it’ll never have babies. I’ve no idea how this is supposed to be encouraging but it is.

Luckily for Butterfree, it finds someone!

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Now, I’m not sure if this is the first instance of it, but does that look a shiny Butterfree would? No. No, it doesn’t. Shiny Butterfree is a dark purple with green eyes; however, fans all over the world have been wishing for this Butterfree to be the true shiny form.

One can only hope that there will be something like an “Alolan Butterfree” but for the next region that looks exactly like this.

Back to the story! Butterfree falls in love with the Pink Butterfree and starts showing off its cool moves called “courtship dance”. But the Pink Butterfree doesn’t care. In fact, it slaps him in the face.

It flies to toward the ground and the group is forced to land. They disembark and look for it, only to find it hiding behind a tree. Brock explains to the group about the misery of a heartbreak.

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The group exchanges dating tips and Butterfree sets on a path to impress the Pink Butterfree with its might. Brock gives Butterfree a make-over (using a yellow scarf) and they set off once again. Ash reveals that he’s taking Butterfree’s rejection very personally. After all, the Butterfree is his Pokemon and it’s the best Butterfree there can be in his eyes.

Butterfree shows off its amazing attacks but nothing good comes of it.

Team Rocket makes it onto the scene in a neat black chopper, sound off and set to stealing all of the Butterfree using a large net!

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They even manage to swipe Pink Butterfree! Ash’s Butterfree responds with a Tackle to the chopper but Jessie only laughs in its face. A Stun Spore follows but with no effect.

Ash wants to call out his Pidgeotto but Misty stops him. Butterfree must do this on its own.

Team Rocket makes off with all of the Pokemon but Butterfree follows closely behind. The group lags behind and makes it out to a large rocky canyon with no Team Rocket or Butterfree in sight. Ash calls out to his Butterfree and it leads them to a secluded warehouse where Jessie and James gloat over the trapped Pokemon.

The windows break and Ash jump in. And they created their own version of Team Rocket’s introduction song!

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Both Team Rocket and our group of heroes call out their Pokemon and a battle ensues. Butterfree breaks off and tries to break the prison net with a tackle. The Pink Butterfree slowly falls in love with the Pokemon as it watches it tirelessly try to save her.

Meanwhile, Jessie hits Misty’s Starmie with a pipe. Uhm, what? You heard it right. Fortunately for Starmie, Misty somehow got a hold of a water gun which she uses to refresh her companion.

The Butterfree fly free except for the Pink Butterfree that lags behind to ensure Ash’s Butterfree is okay. Also, I did not realize I’d have to say “Butterfree” this many times in a single post!

Team Rocket makes off in their chopper trying to recapture the Butterfree that escaped. Ash’s Butterfree sets its sights on the vehicle and attacks by carrying Pikachu on its back.

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Pikachu fires its lightning attack right on top of the chopper.

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Team Rocket blasts off and Butterfree carries Pikachu back to the hot air balloon. The Pink Butterfree flies up to Ash’s Butterfree and they mirror a courtship dance.

The sun sets and while the two Butterfree get ready to leave, Ash faces having to let go of the Pokemon he first caught on his journey.

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The duo of Butterfree have to cross the ocean. Ash kneels down and says his goodbyes. Misty notes that their babies will be beautiful.

Ash tells Butterfree that he’ll tell the other Pokemon that Butterfree is on a trip and may come back one day…maybe. My face right now:

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Ash, Pikachu, and Butterfree have tears in their eyes. Somber music starts to play and Ash flashbacks to his journey with Butterfree. When he first caught it as a Caterpie, when Caterpie evolved into a Metapod and how happy Ash was. And when Metapod’s cocoon broke open to reveal a Butterfree. We see Butterfree battle against Misty’s Staryu.

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As Butterfree leaves, Ash runs to the edge of the cliff and wishes Butterfree good luck. He vows to always remember it and thanks it for everything.

Butterfree flies away into the sunset.

The group exchange a few words. Brock tells Ash about his courage to let Butterfree go.

And that’s it. End of the episode. This was definitely a very emotional episode and it was just as good as I remember it being when I first watched it as a kid. I also remember hoping that one episode, Butterfree would come back from its trip. I remember speculating from gym to gym, even when Ash went to Victory Road to battle in the Indigo League. Alas, Butterfree never came back.

I checked a few sources and found that Butterfree does appear in several (distantly) future episodes but only as a flashback. There’s even a Black & White episode called “Butterfree and Me!” that follows a similar plotline to this one. It also appears in the intro to one of the Gen III anime.

I only wish that Butterfree had made it back for the 20th Pokemon anniversary, as an anime character or maybe just a movie cameo; however, none of that had happened. I do hope that if we ever make it back to Kanto, we see Butterfree again.